What could be finer?

  1. There is no wind at 8 am so I am about to go for a pleasant fall scull around the harbor.
  2. The dogs are frightened and avoiding me because of my bellicose behavior at 1:30 am when J.D. Drew homered to bury the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the second game of the ALDS.
  4. I am on vacation. Ten days of being and nothingness. It’s time for the Fall Run and I am off to the Great Backside Beach to stand in foamy surf, sling eels into the darkness, and ponder my existence while staring across the Atlantic at Portugal.
  5. I am going to cook a roti de porc au lait for my dinner tonight.
  6. Perhaps I shall seek bivalves in the mud later today. Must check tides.

So, whereabouts this coming week? Going nowhere. How to contact me? Don’t. Blog probabilities? Low, except to lie about fish I haven’t caught, and to gloat about the BoSox.


Nice thing about vacation is I can take a couple hours in the morning and get a serious row in before the day gets rolling. Today’s Crossfit workout of the day was to run 15 kilometers — and given my running technique has been compared to a pumpkin with serious issues — I said to hell with that, spare the knees, and decided to row 15K — which amounted to two circumnavigations of Oyster Harbors, aka Grand Island, aka Cotacheset ancestral home of the Wampanoags.

The first circuit was brisk and focused on technique, the second rotation was spent obsessing about the various blisters and chafings developing where skin met skin or wet spandex. My hands look gnawed. I literally have a blister forming inside of a blister on my palm.

Ah, but work is not far away. Morning war room call at 7, weekly Lenovo Marketing Board, assorted email spurts. As I pack for another day at the beach the first thing in the waterproof  bag is the blackberry, followed by the zinc oxide, iPod, etc. etc. etc.

I need to find a Beijing rowing club. there is a nice looking river near my hotel, it seems to run out of the lake where the Summer Palace is. I’ve seen crews rowing in Beijing in the past so I need to find out where their boathouse is. I doubt I’m going to get any time in on the Olympic course at Shunyi. (end sarcasm).

Fall regattas

Hope springs eternal and so I filed my application to scull in this fall’s Head of the Charles Regatta. Having turned 50 in May, this would be my first year in the elder statesman category of Grand Master, but first i need to have my application accepted as it is a tough ticket to get into the Head unless one competes and finishes within 5% of the winning sculler’s time. My last time racing the HOCR was in 2003 — my first time as a sculler — and I performed horribly, coming in third from last with a terrible time and twenty seconds in penalties. The low light of that October morning was hitting the Weeks Footbridge in front of the Harvard Business School and being urged to capsize by drunken frat boys there for the WASP equivalent of NASCAR crashes.

Thats the bridge I am about to hit in the background ...
That's the bridge I am about to hit in the background ...

Whatever, I rowed my first Head of the Charles in the early 70s when I was rowing in prep school, kept doing it through college, and a couple of other times in my college alumni boat. I’ve done the Head when no one but a couple hundred rowers were participating, and I’ve done it as a parent watching my daughter row it for my alma mater.

But, application acceptance or not, I did file my forms for the Green Mountain Head, which according to my good friend Charlie Clapp (silver medal, US Men’s 8, 1984), is the best of the fall regattas because it is so darn pretty, has no spectators, and the prizes are a bag of apples, a block of Vermont cheddar, or a jug of maple syrup. I’ve rowed only one GMH and thought it a most wonderful experience.

So — all this time in the garage gym working off the excess poundage now has an immediate goal. Don’t hit the Week’s Footbridge and try to do better than 2003.

Boat lust

2008 07 04_0949.JPG

Originally uploaded by dchurbuck

I was walking back from the town dock last night after some late afternoon fluke fishing and saw this gorgeous 14′ (or-so) lapstrake pulling boat sitting on a trailer down by the village center. I popped home for the camera and checked it out.

The oars were still wet, so someone and their friend were obviously enjoying a cold beverage at the KettleHo after a nice late afternoon row around the bay. The boat was immaculate — it looked to be only a few years old, and was put together as delicately as a jewel box. I’m not sure what the naval architects would call it. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Whitehall because of the double-ended canoe hull. Peapod might apply, but again, not sure.

This pretty much embodies everything I’d like in a traditional boat. I’m not a fixed seat rower, but this one would fit the bill if I were one. Oh, and the leather collars on the oars were stitched on with a perfect herringbone pattern that put my efforts to shame.


Clinker built hulls — where the planks overlap each other — are beautiful things. This boat is riveted together with bronze rods peened over washers.

Titcomb’s Bookshop – Upcoming Events

Titcomb’s Bookshop – Upcoming Events

Tomorrow- Sunday 3.30 @ 2 pm

David Churbuck Book Signing
The Book of Rowing
Sunday March 30th, 2pm
David Churbuck is the author of The Book Of Rowing. The book was originally printed in 1988 and has been updated and re-released. The book details the complete history of the sport of rowing, includes instructions on how to improve from a novice rower to a confident expert and is filled with black and white photos and line drawings. It is the perfect book for anyone who has an interest in this classic and elegant sport.Members of the Barnstable Rowing Club will be on hand to tell you all about their Learn To Row programs for adults and juniors.


Got on the water this morning — it was too smooth to ignore and the temps are positively spring-like. Being inspired by the crocus and grape hyacinth, I donned ye olde spandex and lugged the Empacher down the hill to the hahbah.

Being a fat f%$k, this not one of my finer rows. Here are the numbers:

8054 meters in 55 minutes, 30 seconds (I do this course in 38 minutes when I am fit) with 1167 strokes. I stopped a lot due to … of all things …. shin splints!

Went by some clammers — commercial guys — and shot the breeze for a while. A quahogger off of Bay Lane in Osterville agreed that you can’t buy a spring day on the water like we had today.

On the water again — winter sculling

It’s so strange to be rowing in February that I feel compelled to note the news that I circumnavigated Grand Island this morning in my second row of 2008. Maybe it was the two dozen copies of the book that arrived yesterday, maybe it was the flat-as-glass conditions, I am inspired and any time I can get off of the erg and on the water is a good day indeed.

I also learned I can stand in 35 degree water in barefeet and absolutely feel no pain or cold. This is either a good thing or an indication that I am turning into wood from the ground up.

I was paranoid the whole row, worried I’d smack a winter mooring stick, flip the boat, and go into massive heart attack mode or turn blue from hypothermia. This makes me wonder what the risk analysis would be by an actuary if trying to decide which was worst for me — cycling the byways of Cape Cod or sculling over its waterways?

Erg Blogging: Holiday Challenge 2007 Honor Board

Holiday Challenge 2007 Honor Board

The goal: row 200,000 meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

The reality: 6666 meters per day, with no days off. Hard to accomplish with any travel on the calendar (which I have).

The plan: 10,000 per day to build up a cushion for down days on the road.

The strategy: in each workout row four 2,000 meter pieces with a 2 minute, 30 second recovery row in between the pieces. Four hard work pieces adding up to 8,000 meters and four 2.5 minute pieces, averaging 500 meters each makes the entire workout an relatively easy 10K — all in all about 41 minutes of rowing.

I’ve done it before, and I hope to do it again. This is an awesome way to combat the bilious influences of holiday imbibing and engorging.

If I succeed I get a pin and the right to buy a t-shirt.

A new pair of oars

History – Shaw & Tenney – Orono, Maine

The five-foot basswood crap oars I’ve been nursing for five years are about three strokes from giving up the ghost and having invested several coats of Epiphanes varnish, Churbuck Yellow  on the blades, and tacked on leathers and buttons, I’ve decided enough is enough, no more lipstick on the pig, and for once it is time to get some real oars.

I looked at a pair at an antique shop on Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend, the lady quoted $125 for a so-so pair of six-footers, maybe 50 years old. I was tempted, but I was basically paying New York prices for something some hedge fund manager was going to turn into a piece of wall art. It was time to call Shaw & Tenney, makers of the best oars on the planet, and the third oldest marine manufacturer in the country.

I dropped $180 for a pair of six-foot spruce oars with a leathers/button kit I’ll sew on myself. These should, knock on wood, wind up in the hands of my grandchildren. I was tempted to get ash — the “ash” breeze is the old nickname for rowing — but ash is heavy and overkill for a set of dinghy oars.

This fall I think I’ll clamp a sculling notch on the transom of the dinghy and learn how to propel myself with one oar. Interestingly, Shaw & Tenney charges more money for a single sculling oar than they do for a pair of conventional ones.